5 Tips for Finding the Best Deals on Airfare
We all know that the best time to travel is off peak times, which mean October to April, particularly January and February when prices are at their lowest. For those of us with kids in a traditional school program, and a million other reasons, that won’t always work. There are still deals to be found, and the internet is your friend for finding travel deals. Here are my top 5 tips for finding the best flight deals.
1. Look for Patterns and find the Best Day to Shop
Every airline is different but in general, shopping for flights on Tuesday is the best time to look for those deals. The best time for airfare searching is on Tuesdays, around 3:00 p.m., eastern time. On Tuesday, many airlines release weekly airfare sales and then the other airlines jump in to price match. This applies when you are paying for flights or using points. The second cheapest day is Wednesday. As you start your hunt for the best, cheapest flights, you will start to notice patterns. In general, Tuesday and Wednesday are the cheapest days to shop. On the weekend, prices sky rocket and selection narrows.
2. Be Flexible – If you can
Travelers can often save money if they adjust their travel dates to the cheapest travel day. You can save hundreds of dollars simply by going a day or two earlier or later than you originally planned. Many of the travel search engines have adapted their search setting for this purpose, adding +/- 3 day options. Some sites, like the one above, even let you choose a whole month in which to search.As you can see above, prices for the same trip range from $116 to $216.40. It isn’t just flexibility in departure days that helps, flexibility in location helps too. I am not talking about abandoning your dream of going to Paris, but you can be creative on how you get there. For example, it is way cheaper to fly out of a big city. I did this on my last trip to Thailand. We flew to Los Angeles ($50) and caught a flight to Bangkok. This saved us $600. This is particularly easy when traveling in Europe. Europe has a couple really good, cheap commuter airlines (Ryanair, Vueling, EasyJet). Just get to any city in Europe and then you can get almost anywhere you want to go, cheap.
3. Airfare Alerts – Set Alerts for the Best Deals
This tool is very valuable in keeping you in the loop. Websites like Kayak and Farecompare are great for setting price alerts. They let you set alerts for destination, dates and price. What I like best about these two is that you can also set alerts for a more broad search. You can set an alert for the best deals to “Europe” and even set price ranges. I love Farecompare’s Getaway Map. The range for your search can be as narrow or as broad as you want.
4. Use Flight Search Engines
Not all flight search engines are created equal. The go to search engine for a lot of people is Travelocity. I really like Travelocity but they don’t have all your options. Some of the bigger sites like Travelocity leave out the small airlines. My picks for a search engines are Skyscanner, airfare watchdog and Farecompare. Start with these and once you find something you like, check that itinerary on the other sites. Don’t forget to check the airlines site, sometimes it is a little cheaper. Sometimes your might just save a few dollars, but why not save a few bucks.
5. Points – Use wisely
Not everyone is comfortable with getting credit cards for points. The points game can be complicated and a little intimidating. There are hundreds of blogs dedicated to teaching you how to fly free, playing the points game. You have to be careful, you don’t get points for free. You have to apply for, qualify for and use a credit card. I am a debt free gal and credit cards make me nervous, but I can’t ignore the free travel opportunities. So, my system is that I only do 2 credit cards at a time. I do one for flights and 1 for hotel. Right now I am using an American Airlines credit card and a IHG credit card (Holiday Inn, CrownePlaza and others). I got 60,000 points when I signed up for the AA credit card. This will get me 1 free round trip ticket to Europe (30,000 each way) or 2 round trip tickets within the US (12,500 each way). They do require you to charge $3000 within the first 3 months of having the card. This worked out great when my son Nate needed braces. I just put them on the card and then paid it off.
Planning is part of the fun.
I love planning my next adventure and hunting for the best airfare is part of the thrill. Hopefully you find these tips helpful. I would love to hear about your travel secrets. Comment below and help us all out. If you love great food and amazing travel, subscribe to my blog. I will keep you posted on great travel deals and amazing food I find on my adventures.